The White House has a plan to re-open US businesses in three phases and experts are trying to decide how it will impact more than 1,000 casinos that were shut down due to coronavirus pandemic. The plan also contains health and safety protocols for both individuals and businesses.
Because the timing of the closure is not the same for each venue, it’s expected they won’t open at the same time either. Joel Simkins, Head of Gaming and Leisure Investment Banking for SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, said regional markets will likely open up before the destination ones, such as the Strip or Atlantic City.
John DeCree, Union Gaming Group analyst, also implied that casinos could be considered large venues, and as long as they meet the criteria included in the plan, re-opening could be done by obeying the social distancing rules. “It’s still unclear what distancing protocol for casinos would look like,” he said, “but could include reduced gaming capacity, greater spacing between active slot machines, fewer seats at live gaming tables, and masks for dealers.”
However, Nevada remains hopeful. Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox said Las Vegas casinos should open in mid to late May, with all safety measures in place. He stated, “Begin with reduced occupancy, physical distancing measures in place, temperature checks and no large gatherings. We all need to wear a mask.”
While Governor Steve Sisolak didn’t provide a date for the end of the lockdown, Nevada’s casinos are eager to get back to business. Maddox presented health and safety guidelines for his group’s casinos, which include a limited number of people in an elevator and automatic or propped-open entrance doors. At the same time, health experts warn about a possible second wave should the resumption of work take place too soon.